You’re probably sick of hearing it from us, but we’re going to keep saying it: the most expensive products aren’t always the best.
Our experts aren’t swayed by sleek aesthetics and clever marketing: we want to know what products do and how well they do it, so we rigorously test everything in our NATA-accredited labs to give you the answers. Quite often we find that you can’t judge a book by its cover – and certainly not by its price tag.
Our experts aren’t swayed by sleek aesthetics and clever marketing: we want to know what products do and how well they do it.
As part of our mission to fight for Australian consumers, we think you should get what you pay for (at the very least), so products that cost a fortune but deliver subpar performance particularly grind our gears.
Here are 10 products that hit the not-so-sweet spot of terrible performance for a huge price tag. Avoid them at all costs.
1. Dyson air purifiers.
Dyson’s bladeless fans are wildly popular and instantly recognisable – and come with a hefty price tag. But when we tested them against standard old-fashioned blade-and-tower fans, most of them didn’t blow us away.
It’s the same story with Dyson’s air purifiers. Our experts were underwhelmed with the products’ air-purifying capabilities, rating their performance ‘Poor’.
For context, a Kmart Anko air purifier that costs $159 performed better than all three Dyson models in our test, scoring about 20 percentage points higher for performance. (And we’re not recommending you buy the Kmart product: it performed poorly too, just for less.)
These aren’t the most expensive air purifiers on the market, but if you have $700 to spend, you can do far better than a Dyson for your money.
2. Alessi Plisse toaster
Despite its designer good looks, this toaster is all form, not much function. It performed so poorly that our expert testers thought it was broken, so sent it back to the retailer. But its replacement didn’t perform any better, so clearly that’s just how these toasters are made.
It couldn’t even manage to toast bread on its highest setting, and what little toasting it did manage was uneven. If you’re a fan of multigrain bread, you’re out of luck with this toaster: it couldn’t manage to toast Burgen wholegrain bread, even on the highest setting.
A toaster has just one job: to turn your bread into toast. The Alessi can’t even manage that, AND it’ll leave a $260-sized hole in your pocket.
4. Smeg 1950s-style CGF01PBAU coffee grinder.
Speaking of products that grind our gears, this Smeg conical burr grinder was one of the more expensive in our test, yet scored only marginally better than a $14 Kmart blade grinder (a result made even worse when you realise that burr grinders are usually better than blade grinders).
This is another machine that has only one job but fails to do it well. Our expert testers found that it couldn’t grind the beans finely enough to make an espresso – a pretty serious problem for a coffee grinder.
This type of coarse grind may be suitable for a pressurised basket espresso machine – which, conveniently, Smeg also makes (in matching powder blue, no less). But for any other kind of machine, Smeg’s retro-styled coffee grinder will leave you with a weak, bitter brew.
5. Bosch KAN92VI30A fridge.
For 3000 bucks, it’s quite reasonable to expect your fridge to keep your food cold and your frozen food frozen. But if you buy this Bosch, you can expect everything but that.
Far from delivering consistent coolness, this fridge’s temperature fluctuates wildly and the temperature throughout the fridge is uneven, so you’ll end up with spots that are too warm or too cold.
At best, this will leave you with ice cream that’s melted then refrozen, or lettuce that’s frozen and then gone limp. At worst, you could end up with food poisoning.
On top of the $3000 purchase price, you’ll also have to factor in replacing all the food that’s gone bad.
We’ve found many European fridges we’ve tested don’t seem designed for Australian conditions,
“We’ve found many European fridges we’ve tested don’t seem designed for Australian conditions – the hot, wet climate here is very different to that in Europe, so you’re better off opting for something made with local conditions in mind, for a fraction of the cost,” says CHOICE whitegoods expert Ashley Iredale.
Three grand will buy you a good-quality French door fridge that’ll keep your food safe and your ice cream frozen to perfection, so check our fridge reviews to make sure you’re spending your money wisely.
6. Smeg 1950s-style variable temperature KLF04 kettle,
What’s this – another Smeg product? It’s almost as if the company has prioritised style over substance.
This kettle well and truly over-promises and under-delivers. It has seven pre-set boil temperatures from 50 to 95°C, but six of the seven are off by one to eight degrees.
This is the kettle equivalent of a beautiful but annoying housemate: pleasing to the eye but noisy, sloppy and difficult to live with.
Smeg makes a slightly cheaper 50s-style kettle with fewer features that actually performs slightly better than this one – so if you’re set on the retro styling you’re better off opting for the other one and saving yourself $30 in the process.
Or you could buy something that’s even half the price but does a better job. Check out our kettle reviews to make sure you’re not paying too much for a dud product
7. Original Mattress Factory Refresh mattress.
Sweet dreams aren’t made of this. Despite being one of the most expensive mattresses in our test, it received the lowest score overall – lower even than a $300 Clark Rubber foam mattress.
It’s saggy, it’s soft, it’s sweaty – and can be yours for $2898. Fortunately, our buyers were able to pick it up for half price, but even at $1500 this mattress is well and truly overpriced.
Given how much time we spend sleeping, a mattress is an important purchase – which is why it’s crucial that you don’t blow thousands of dollars on a nightmare. We’ve rounded up the best mattresses for less than $1100 so you can rest easy.
8. Samsung QA65QN95BAW TV
Look, no-one expects to pick up a big screen for a tiny price. But when you’re dropping $4K on a 4K TV, you expect excellence.
Unfortunately, what this Samsung delivers is far from perfection. It leaves the ‘high’ out of high-definition, and even its standard-definition picture isn’t especially sharp. Its sound quality is another low note, scoring just 55% on this test.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to spend a fortune on a big-screen TV: there are plenty of TVs recommended by our experts that cost less than this Samsung, so check our TV reviews to get a clearer picture of what to buy. You can sort by display size, display type, features and price to find what you’re looking for.
9. Dyson Omni-Glide stick vac
Before we start, a bit of housekeeping: it’s important to note that the Omni-Glide is designed for use on hard floors only, so it wouldn’t be fair to compare it with other stick vacs that can be used on carpet.
But even when we take carpet cleaning scores out of the equation, the Omni-Glide still performed abominably, receiving the second lowest score for hard-floor cleaning of all the models in the test. (The worst was a Kmart stick vac, so it wasn’t exactly a fair competition there either.)
And despite being designed for hard floors, perhaps Dyson should’ve pointed out that it’s really only good for cleaning small hard floors. It has a tiny bin (just 0.1L) that fills up quickly, and the battery runs for less than 10 minutes on the maximum setting, so it won’t cover a great deal of ground before needing to be emptied and/or recharged.
Of course, Dyson makes plenty of stick vacuums that do perform well – the Omni-Glide just isn’t one of them.
10. Klipsch T5 II True Wireless ANC noise-cancelling headphones.
There’s really not much to commend these headphones on: they’re uncomfortable and deliver poor listening quality.
But perhaps their worst feature is that these supposed “noise-cancelling headphones” are anything but – their active noise cancelling capabilities are so poor that our experts scored them zero percent on this test.
Ironically, they actually deliver excellent passive noise reduction, so perhaps they’re better used with the noise-cancelling feature turned off – at least then you wouldn’t be able to hear the sound of your money going down the toilet.
Of the 12 noise-cancelling headphones our experts recommend, eight of them cost the same as or less than these Klipsch headphones, so it’s entirely possible to pick up a good pair without breaking the bank. Just don’t buy these.